In a quirky and modern adaptation of the Nativity play, the three wise men of the West sat pondering at the advent of another Christmas Season … yet again they had followed the bright star but it had burned out – at the eleventh hour. It had led them to the suburbs of the promised land … but on the verge of glory the bright star faded – seemingly hamstrung in all efforts to find the chosen one. They wept as they reviewed events – wondering if Andy could ever burn as brightly again.
‘Gold, frankincense and myrrh are all very well’ said Shamie ‘but they are not Sam’. Conor surveyed the sepia tinted print on the wall. 1951 – the last time the baby Jesus had slept in Sam in a bed of straw on the stage of the Parochial Hall. ‘Too long’ said Aido – ‘too feckin’ long’ before Mammy said ‘less of the feckin’ son - this is a nativity scenario.’
The statue of Monsignor Horan smiled benignly. It only seemed like yesterday that Daddy laughed at his airport ambitions. ‘I tell you James, there is as much chance of you getting a plane to land in Mayo as there is of us winning Sam.’ The Monsignor laughed equally as he replied … ‘I can deliver the unlikely, such as an airport – but miracles are beyond me.’
Cillian and Diarmuid arrived – resplendent in their cassocks and surplices – possibly the greatest altar boys Mayo has ever produced. They would never be found wanting when a bit of thespian activity was required. Cillian would drop to his knees at any opportunity and invoke a higher power. He was not going to pass up this opportunity.
Vaughan arrived too – a veteran of many Nativities – or naiveties as Daddy said to him. ‘Red sky at night is a shepherd’s delight but a red card is fuckin’ stupid’ Mammy said before blessing herself four times for blaspheming. At least she knew who was going to be the donkey’s arse.
Andy stuck his head around the door – his player of the year trophy held tightly to his chest. Leeroy behind him with his replica from the previous year. ‘Who needs Sam when we have these’ whispered Andy. ‘Shut up, they’ll hear you’, hissed Leeroy. ‘Hi guys’ they said cheerily, ‘we may not have Sam … but we’ll always have God’.
The good shepherd Colm Boyle was not long after. He was delighted to take part but indicated he would not last the full performance. ‘Good lord no – once the fan hits the sh1t I’ll be off.’ Higgins looked at him and laughed – ‘You’re the only man in Ireland that runs on a meter.’
All of a sudden a beatific glow appeared at the door and the hall descended into a hush as an incorporeal being transcended the stage. ‘Tis the virgin herself’ said Mammy – blessing herself eight times. ‘Lourdes, Fatima, Ballinspittle and now here!’ and she fainted. But it was only Cora.
Mammy came to and badly wanted a Joseph. Clarke appeared in front of her, expectant. Daddy exploded – ‘if we want Jesus dropped, bounced and then kicked into the stand, we’ll call you. I don’t think so.’
With that Stephen burst through the door ‘en fake dramatis’. ‘Somebody called?‘ he asked cheerily. ‘Ah sweet jaysus no Rochford’ said Mammy, ‘a fecking manger I said – not a manager. And you’re neither.’
Daddy grunted. It was heading for the usual chaos and he was in the process of slipping out quietly for a few half ones. But as a veteran observer of thousands of episodes of Columbo – there was just one more thing.
‘Andy’ he asked ‘how come the bright star was within reach and we got lost again?’ Andy looked at him, and shook his head, slowly. ‘Daddy’ he said, ‘I was following the real Mayo messiah, Leeroy – the guiding light. But just when we got to the very end of the journey, disaster …. He lost his GPS.’